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According to the ADA’s Health Policy Institute, as of the week of October 5th, about one-third of dental practices are looking for hygienists, and about a quarter of practices are recruiting hygienists.

And roughly four-fifths of practices are having a lot of trouble finding hygienists. Some 70 percent report that finding assistants is “very or extremely challenging.”

So what’s going on? No one knows for sure, but there are some points that may apply.

If They’re Not Confident, They’re Not Coming Back

An article in DentistryIQ from June 29th of this year revealed that while dentists knew that they had to make additional provisions for infection control, confidence that they actually implement those changes was low.

For instance, while almost all practice owners and practice managers surveyed believed they needed more PPE, fewer than six in ten were confident they could secure enough  PPE. 

And while roughly two-thirds agreed with the importance of reducing airborne virus transmission, only half of those thought they could achieve that goal.

It’s safe to assume that a lack of infection prevention controls is a disincentive to recruiting dental team members. The solution is to stringently follow the guidance from the CDC and your state authorities, and advertise that fact in your hiring efforts.  

In the age of COVID-19, safety is a paramount employment concern. 

Once Bitten, Twice Shy?

The layoffs and furloughs in the dental industry during the shutdown orders were massive. Relatively few practices had the resources to continue paying staff members, forcing many of them – possibly for the first time in their careers – to use public assistance.

It’s understandable, given the current rising case counts and hospitalizations, that hygienists, assistants, and front office team members might be skittish about re-entering the dental field. 

If you’re fortunate enough to have the means to pay your staff for several months, even with little revenue coming in, that’s going to be a major boost to your hiring efforts. 

Again, that should be in your hiring ad; you might be able to phrase it as something like “well-positioned to continue salaries during adverse conditions.”

Those hygienists and assistants are still out there. Give them what they need to be confident about returning to the industry.


Written by Smartbox

SmartBox employs the best minds in dentistry to help you grow your practice. Our Practice Growth System™ is proven to help dentists in every market area across the country achieve predictable year-over-year growth.

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